Europe’s first digitized chip factory opens in Dresden –

German engineering and technology company Bosch opened a new semiconductor factory, fully connected to 5G mobile technology, in Dresden on Monday (June 7). The production site was financed to the tune of 140 million euros within the framework of a joint European project. EURACTIV Germany Reports.

“A new era of microelectronics begins today in Dresden,” said Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, presenting the investment as “a clear signal for the future of Germany and Saxony and an expression of the outstanding research expertise and innovative strength of the Silicon Saxony microelectronics cluster.

“A strong microelectronics industry in Germany is necessary for us to be at the forefront of future technologies such as 5G, artificial intelligence, automated driving,” he added.

Bosch had invested a total of around 1 billion euros in the high-tech site – the largest single investment in the company’s 130-year history.

“With the help of artificial intelligence, we are taking semiconductor production to a new level in Dresden,” said Bosch CEO Volkmar Denner, adding that he wanted to set “new standards in production chips” with the project.

In addition, the construction was funded with €140 million under an “Important Project of Common European Interest” (IPCEI) on microelectronics – a joint project launched by Germany, France, Italy, Austria and the United Kingdom to maintain and further develop European skills and know-how in the field of microelectronics.

The IPCEI has a financing pot of 1.9 billion euros with 32 European companies involved in the project.

The first computer chips are due to leave production in July, six months ahead of schedule, while production of chips for the automotive industry is due to start in September.

That could be a relief for many automakers and electronics manufacturers currently struggling with a shortage of chips in the market, caused in part by the surge in demand for laptops and other types of technology. computers during the pandemic.

European semiconductor industry far behind

European Commission Vice-President for Digital Affairs, Margrethe Vestager, recently underlined the importance of semiconductors to “strengthen Europe’s competitiveness as a cradle of cutting-edge innovation”. She also hailed the great results that can be achieved when “industry and government work together”.

Interest in the expansion of the semiconductor industry has recently peaked in the EU.

However, the industry has been struggling for three decades. The share of European manufacturers in world production has fallen from 44% in 1990 to a meager 9% in 2020, a report by says the Semiconductor Industry Association.

Competition in Asia has attracted entrepreneurs from all over the world with low production costs, leading to a mass exodus from the European semiconductor industry. None of Europe’s three largest semiconductor producers – STM, Infineon and NXP – are currently in the global top 10.

However, microprocessors remain essential for connected vehicles, the internet, high performance computing and artificial intelligence – all crucial industries for the EU in the digital age.

The decline of the European semiconductor industry leads to a strong dependence on Asian producers. However, global sourcing bottlenecks and supply chain issues are now leading to widespread production losses across various industries, including the automotive industry.

The problem escalated to such proportions that Altmaier appealed directly to his Taiwanese counterpart, Economy Minister Wang Mei-Hua, to secure additional supplies for the German auto industry.

Huawei sees opportunity in EU semiconductor targets

Telecoms giant Huawei is keen to work alongside European companies to help the bloc meet ambitious new semiconductor targets by 2030 as the company continues to face challenges stemming from US trade restrictions.

How the EU is trying to catch up

The EU has already recognized the problem and is trying to reverse the trend. In his Electronic compass released in March, the Commission set itself the goal of more than doubling the bloc’s market share.

By 2030, advanced and sustainable semiconductors in Europe are expected to “account for at least 20% of global production,” says the Digital Compass.

The European Commission also plans to launch a European alliance for processors and semiconductor technologies in the coming months to reduce the industry’s dependence on Asian semiconductor manufacturers and attract more investors, according to the EU industrialist. strategy renewed in May.

Last December, 22 EU countries also published a joint statement to expand cooperation in the field of processor and semiconductor technology.

The declaration aims above all to generate synergies between the different national research and investment initiatives and to create the conditions for the next generation of processors and semiconductors, in order to guarantee the EU a leading role in Industry 4.0.

This turnaround must be achieved with the help of the EU recovery fund, 20% of which must be invested in digital transformation. In the next two to three years, this will already represent 145 billion euros.

[Edited by Luca Bertuzzi/Zoran Radosavljevic]

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